By Amanda Fitzpatrick
Everyone has grown apart from a friend at one time or another, but what are people supposed to do in a friendship that is not thriving or even toxic? Many people are familiar with the “to end or not to end” question of romantic relationships, but they do not give the same thought to friendships. However, it is important to hold our friends to the same high standard. Friendships are rewarding and can have a positive impact on all parts of our lives, but they can also have a very negative effect if they are not healthy. After all, toxic friendships are not always as apparent as they are in “Mean Girls.” What exactly separates healthy from toxic friendships? For starters, healthy friendships have balance. One person should not constantly have their needs met while the other’s needs are overlooked. Additionally, in a toxic friendship, a person may find the friend to be insulting, selfish, critical or simply add unnecessary stress to their life.
In this case, Esther Merlos-Zafra a Fulbright Scholar at Washington & Jefferson College, supports breaking off these relationships. “Do not make excuses for trash people. People will show who they really are, and people should cut them off the first time,” said
Merlos-Zafra. “No one should never have to make excuses for a friend.” Ultimately, whether the friendship could be considered toxic or not, people form patterns with their actions. Even though it can be hard to confront a friend, especially if they repeatedly do something bothersome, speak up because they need to be held accountable for their actions. “Every person should be held accountable for their actions,” said Kim Oberbach, another Fulbright Scholar at W&J. “If a friend continues to break one’s trust, there comes a time to eventually let go.” The question of deciding when that time has come is debatable. Some people can put up with a lot more than others, so it becomes a personal decision that people have to make by themselves.
There may come a time when a person will have to realize the truth and cut off the friendship. “There is only so much that a person can take from a toxic friend before they have to cut them off,” said Dylan Bertovich ’21. “Everyone should hold their friends to a higher standard than their acquaintances and should expect their friends to […] be there for them. If someone is worried about being alone or ending a long-term friendship, encourage them to think that it is better to be alone than to be with someone they cannot call a true friend.” Luckily, there is no need to feel alone. College is a great place to meet new friends, so do not waste time on a toxic friendship when there are so many new people to meet who may be better friends than your current ones.